Latino voter intimidation effort investigated in the OC

According to a story in this morning’s Los Angeles Times, an investigation has been launched in Orange County (CA) of a Spanish-language letter, sent to Latinos in the OC, threatening them with jail or deportation if they turn out to vote in this fall’s general election. The story quotes language from the letter:

“You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time …,” the letter says.

Apparently the letter also threatens those who receive it that California has developed some sort of voter-tracking system that will turn the names of illegal Latino voters over to anti-immigrant groups.

At this time, it appears that the letter is only being circulated in a limited area of Orange County. The Orange County Registrar reports that “most of the mailers are being received in Garden Grove, which is center stage in the hotly contested race for the 34th State Senate District. That race – long a Democratic stronghold in central Orange County – recently saw Republicans narrow registration margins making the district a virtual tie between registered Republicans and Democrats.”

It is unclear exactly who sent the letter, and the extent to which the letter has been distributed. But in a close election, like that in the 34th Senate district, if tactics like this keep even a handful of voters from the polls, that might have an impact on the election outcome.